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Lead-Free Primer Residues: A Qualitative Characterization of Winchester WinClean, Remington/UMC LeadLess, Federal BallistiClean, and Speer Lawman CleanFire Handgun Ammunition

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Sciences Volume: 51 Issue: 3 Dated: May 2006 Pages: 509-519
Zachariah Oommen Ph.D.; Scott M. Pierce M.S.
Date Published
May 2006
11 pages
This study examined the composition of elements and postfiring residues of several "lead-free" or "nontoxic" centerfire handgun ammunition types currently available to the general public.
All types of ammunition tested contained aluminum (Al), silicon (SI), copper (Cu), and zinc (Zn). Most contained traces of sulfur and calcium. Winchester WinClean and Remington LeadLess contained potassium as the primary ingredient. Federal BallistClean contained barium, and Speer Lawman CleanFire contained strontium. Generally, the elements and residues were as indicated in the ammunition manufacturers' MSDS publications and the patents granted. Most major handgun ammunition manufacturers offer "lead-free" or "nontoxic" options. This is because of an increasing health concern among those who shoot often or professionally regarding ammunition-based airborne lead. The "lead-free" ammunitions reduce airborne lead by one of several means: enclosing the base of the projectile; enclosing the entire projectile with brass, copper, or gilding metal; constructing the projectile from a metal that does not contain lead; and removing lead styphnate from the primer mixture. This study obtained the "lead-free" or "nontoxic" ammunition from Winchester, Remington/UMC, Federal, and Speer in both .45 ACP and 9 mm when possible. A total of 112 postfiring residue samples were collected at varying distances from the muzzle. An additional 20 samples were collected by the direct ignition of primers. Qualitative determinations were conducted with the use of scanning electron microscopy/electron dispersive spectrometry analysis. 12 figures, 2 tables, and 13 references


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